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Things I Learned This Summer: Women’s Rights and Voting

In a 5-4 ruling the Supreme Court this summer supported abortion rights, reasserting the importance of women’s equality and control of their own bodies. It was ruled that the Louisiana law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals violates the landmark decision of Roe v. Wade in 1973. But the ruling in June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo has also proven that women’s rights and reproductive freedoms are on the line. The fight is far from over.

As it was the week before July 4, this emblematic celebration of our nation’s freedom makes it necessary to proactively fight for the equality and justice that women still have not concretely procured. Women in the United States live at a time where they have more liberties than ever–the right to vote, own land, work, etc. Even still, women are fighting each and every day to simply live with the 77 cents they make to a man’s dollar–and that number is worse for women of color.

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump explicitly promised to appoint judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade, questioning the constitutionality of abortion. He said, “They will be pro-life, and we will see what about overturning,” mentioning that he would fill the courts with right-wing judges. Within his first year in office, Trump signed an anti-abortion executive order, prohibiting US funding to international nongovernmental organizations that offer health options. He tweeted in March of 2018, “For the first time since Roe v. Wade, America has a Pro-Life President, a Pro-Life Vice President, a Pro-Life House of Representatives and 25 Pro-Life Republican State Capitals!” Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health programs were targeted and placed in danger financially, making commenters refer back to Margaret Atwood’s increasingly-realistic book “ The Handmaid’s Tale.”

But abortion obstructions are not a new thing.

For decades now, protestors have been pushing state-level regulations on abortion clinics. Target Restrictions on Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws are disguised as in favor of women’s health, but–in reality–they are medically unnecessary and often times cause more burdens to abortion providers and seekers. Nearly half of the states have laws or policies that regulate abortions, and 11 of those states place unnecessary requirements on clinicians, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

While the effects of the Supreme Court ruling might seem a long way off, this has not stopped the Trump administration from taking other measures to restrict womens’ access to family planning services. Women’s personal rights are at risk. We cannot let one Supreme Court case end the fight for equality. The fight needs to continue.

Just as July 4 represents the freedom of our nation, women too have a freedom to own their bodies. And yet, there have been countless regulations and laws trying to fight that. Lawmakers sign into action bills that make it harder for women to find adequate health care and sexual education every term. It wasn’t until May of last year that an Equality Act was passed by the House of Representatives to prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender. Feminists have been fighting since the 19th century for equality.

So how can we ensure that women have a right to their own bodies?

There are over 165 million women in the United States acknowledging July 4. They are honoring the freedom and justice of our nation, while still not fully obtaining it themselves.  It’s time for the majority in the United States to not be treated as a second-thought minority. Women need to be seen as an equal. We should be past the days of seeing women as only homemakers and childbearers.

So how does that happen? You go out and vote. It’s that easy. In 2016, about 63 percent of eligible women voted. That number exceeded that of male voters. The “women’s vote” you often hear people talking about is a powerful constituency of voters in the millions. Women’s voices and agendas are necessary for the public wellbeing. Women–individually and collectively–must continue to show up to affect the outcomes of elections, especially the one this fall. The Progressive female vote can propel action. 2020 is the one hundredth anniversary of the right to vote for women. What better way is there to celebrate than to have a high turnout at the election polls and vote for your rights?

Women deserve equality and justice. The ball is now in your court this fall.

Monica Sager is a freelance writer from Clark University, where she is pursuing a double major in psychology and self-designed journalism with a minor in English. She wants to become an investigative journalist to combat and highlight humanitarian issues. Monica has previously been published in The Pottstown Mercury, The Week UK, Worcester Telegram and Gazette and even The Boston Globe. Read more of Monica’s previous work on her Twitter @MonicaSager3.
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